After the Tattoo ©
Written after a visit to the packed, last performance of The Edinburgh Military Tattoo on a warm summer evening in August 2003.
An early darkening dusk now envelopes ancient Edinburgh Castle walls;
The lone piper's silhouette has long faded from the ramparts;
His eerie lament echoes only to a distant whisper in the ear;
The grey granite rocks no longer resonate to the grace notes of a hundred bagpipes.
Flawless, fleet-footed figurantes have danced their final 'Highland Fling';
Their colourful tartan kilts and sashes folded away for another year.
Zig-zag tyre tracks woven on the esplanade by the 'Gunner's' growling motorcycles have gone,
And gleaming horse-drawn guns are now stored in Artillery sheds.
Pleated, bay horses of the 'Kings Troop' stand relaxed in stable yards;
Their strenuous efforts rewarded with an extra ration of oats.
The rhythmic rat-tat-tat of the 'Swiss Drum Corp' no longer rebounds from towering scaffold seats;
And the meticulous 'American Rifle Drill Team' have returned their flashing bayonets to their scabbards.
Daredevil soldiers who abseiled down Castle walls have finally coiled away their sturdy ropes;
Smart young 'Argylls' have returned to barracks to prepare for their next tour of duty;
Brave men of 'The Black Watch' have rejoined their Regiment, knowing that we are all proud of them;
And the stirring pipe marches played by the 'Royal Scots' still reverberate in our bones.
Youthful performers have returned to their own countries with a stronger bond for each other;
Their steel drums, kettle drums, side drums and big drums have all beat their last;
They've gone home to Oman, Switzerland, America, Korea, Jamaica, Canada, and Australia;
And they carry with them a once-in-a-lifetime experience of music, fun and camaraderie.
Great convoys of executive coaches have wheeled their way through heaving festival streets;
Their sleepy passengers safely delivered, with hearts uplifted - full of memories.
Pungent spirals of smoke from cascading fireworks have long evaporated skywards in the darkness;
And the soldier guards have once again returned the Castle to their safe keeping.
The steel scaffold stanchions now clang, roll and bounce with relief as their bolts are loosened
And energetic erectors dismantle them - ready for transporting to the next event.
The long rows of bright spotlights have also gone, leaving the esplanade deserted, dark and droneless;
And observers trumpet, "This was the best and most spectacular Edinburgh Tattoo - ever!"
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland